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China to provide cultural feast during Olympic Games

The Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG) will provide a variety of unique cultural activities during the Beijing Olympics in August, said a senior BOCOG official here on Monday.

This year, the Ministry of Culture, Beijing municipal government and the BOCOG have jointly developed the cultural program for 2008,and scheduled the Olympic Cultural Festival from June 23 to Sept. 17, said Zhao Dongming, director of BOCOG Culture and Ceremonies Department.

"This cultural festival will last nearly three months throughout the Olympics and Paralympics of 2008. It will be a marvelous Olympic cultural event with the longest time, the most abundant contents, the largest number of performance participating teams and the most complete artistic variety," Zhao said at a press conference held at the Main Press Center.

During the cultural festival, there will be a host of significant cultural activities with "Meet in Beijing 2008" acting as the theme. The "Asia Night, Africa Night, Latin America Night, Arab Night, SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization) Night" and other song and dance shows will be arranged.

Nearly 20,000 Chinese and foreign artists from more than 80 countries will participate in the performances with nearly 200 performances. In addition, there will be 600-plus performances given by performers from the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan.

A variety of activities in the Olympic Center area and Olympic Village will include "Lucky Clouds Theatre" performance, "China Story" culture exhibition activities, "Fuwa Mobile Show", "Flag-raising Square" performance, fold custom shows, Chinese learning areas and club performances and other activities.

On Aug. 8, the Olympic Expo will be launched in a grand way at the Beijing Exhibition Center.

"During the Olympic Games, we will strive to create opportunities for common citizens to share the joyful atmosphere of the Olympics. Therefore, all the Olympic cultural squares will be open for the masses for free and most exhibitions will be open for the public free of charge," Zhao promised.

According to the transcript released at the press conference, more than 20 Olympic cultural squares will be set up in Beijing and other co-hosting cities will also hold square cultural activities.

There will be nearly 40 international exhibitions and more than 150 domestic exhibitions for various arts, artifacts, painting, photography, sculpture, murals and non-material heritage.

Zhao also claimed that most state-level stadiums will be open for free during the Olympic, some historical heritage sites, such as the Forbidden City and the Gongwang Mansion, will continue to require admission fee from visitors to better protect the heritages.

Zhao said theatre performances will be aimed for public welfare during the Olympic Games. In this way, the government has started to provide some subsidies for domestic art troupes. However, public welfare doesn't mean tickets are totally free, and reasonably low-price tickets will be provided, as art troupes cannot support themselves by solely depending on government subsidy.

He said, "As Olympic cultural activities are aimed at the goal of wide public participation, we definitely put maintaining social security as our work priority. We will ensure a worry-free Olympic Games."

Cultural activities are meant to bring happiness to the public, but security check is equally important, which could help rule out some hidden dangers. "We will intensify our efforts to help the public understand the importance of security check and receive it," Zhao said.


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